London Colney’s All Saints Pastoral Centre sale confirmed
PUBLISHED: 06:24 02 February 2013
THE Pope has failed to answer the prayers of worshippers who wrote pleading for his help to save a building described as a “jewel in St Albans’ crown”.
It has now been confirmed that despite concerted efforts by villagers and worshippers, London Colney’s historic landmark building All Saints Pastoral Centre has definitely been sold to developers.
Furthermore its new owners, Comer Homes, are understood to have initiated confidential talks with St Albans district council about wide-ranging development plans.
Councillor for Colney Heath Chris Brazier said he believed there were hopes of turning the site into a conference centre, apartments and housing development.
It is not known when a planning application will be lodged with the council as Comer Homes had not responded to questions at the time of going to press.
Since May last year, the Herts Advertiser has repeatedly approached the centre’s owners of nearly 40 years, the Diocese of Westminster, for details of the sale, including who had purchased it.
The diocese announced two years ago that it was to shut All Saints – affecting 32 staff – blaming the closure on a “challenging economic climate”.
An e-petition was launched to stop the historic site from being carved up, with more than 6,000 people signing the online document.
A campaign group, Save All Saints Committee, was launched, with members writing to the Holy See in the Vatican to show the depth of feeling against it and to request that any sale be rescinded.
The Pope was told that the centre was built in the 1920s for the All Saints Sisters, and sold to the diocese with an agreed covenant that any future sale would be to a purchaser who would ensure educational and religious continuity.
But the diocese has recently sold the 60-acre centre, which boasts historic sites dating back to Norman times, for, according to a source, about £8 million.
A spokeswoman for the diocese refused to confirm that figure saying: “We are not prepared to say how much it has been sold for. I can confirm that it has been sold to Comer Homes. It will be finalised by March 2014.”
She said the delayed finalisation of the sale would enable the diocese to organise an alternative home for SPEC, a residential retreat for children and young people.
The preferred future location for SPEC is Waxwell Farm, previous home of the Grail Community at Pinner, with consultation underway for development at that site.
The timescale for such a major relocation project means that SPEC will remain at its current home at All Saints until Easter 2014.